Monday, February 18, 2013

Snakes at the Tate Britain Gallery

While snakes can make great animal drama in art,
it always fascinates me how artists choose to portray them.
The top piece, a detail of James Ward's
"Marengo and the Serpent"
from the early 19th cen
(Marengo I assume is the horrified-looking horse)
shows a very fierce but not altogether realistic looking snake,
 in my mind.
The second is great in terms of realism:
Frederic Leighton's "Athlete Wrestling a Python", 1877,
is obviously meticulously researched.
He's got the python's head bones and mouth structure down,
no fangs but with the detachable jaw,
and it is obviously a very strong snake (pythons are.)
The last one is from a Temptation of Adam scene
(as so many of them are)
this one by William Strang, 1899,
and the snake looks python-esque. Kind of cute, in my mind,
and not nearly as sinister as earlier snakes.

English Family Portraits in Earlier Times

I was at the Tate Britain with my handy camera [photos were allowed, hooray!] and I found it fascinating how the development of family portraits has changed.
Here's a gem from ca. 1636, going to visit the new baby and mother:

And another, slightly earlier, on the same theme (notice how these two mothers are both impeccable and so are their children):

This eighteenth-century 'two for one' family portrait is also kind of fun (saves money by all clubbing up to pay the painter together, possibly?) I like how the lady in the family on the right seems to be spinning.

Friday, February 1, 2013